by Michael Monasky
If you ever get the chance to look at current local government agendas, you'll find an early line item called the “consent” calendar. These are so-called non-controversial topics such as payments for contracts and other such nuts and bolts operations of government. The consent calendar is also a great place to hide controversial topics for rubber-stamp approval without much, if any, public hearing or debate.
Consider two consent calendar items on today's Board Of Supervisor's (BOS) agenda. The County office of economic development and marketing has had $225,000 earmarked for the June 2015 U.S. Senior Men’s Open Golf Tournament at Del Paso Country Club. This is a three year endeavor, taking $25,000 annually from a fund at the airport, and another $50,000 yearly from the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). There's no reason why these funds couldn't be used for, say, public transit improvements at the airport, or homeless services downtown. Rest assured, however: they'll be available for promoting golfing for old men. Old women, or, for that matter, young women, need not apply.
The second item is an ordinance proposed by the relatively new County Executive, Brad Hudson. It seems that Mr. Hudson seeks to ensure a quiet work environment for County employees at 700 H Street. Apparently, County workers at other locations aren't entitled to quiet work environments. What's surprising about the newly proposed law by our new County Executive is that the source of the noise is the general public. Hudson's vision is to prevent the public from using noisemakers and riding bicycles in the vicinity, subject to misdemeanor charges and arrest for disturbing the peace.
My point is this. There is a culture of privilege in our society. That privilege is supported by business and government. And it is focused upon those already privileged, such as moneyed old men who fly to golf tournaments. Such an avalanche of resources, benefits, subsidies, gifts, and political promises do not fall upon the heads of the homeless or the people who populate the bottom half of our political economy.
A different avalanche falls upon the heads of working folks, like austerity measures, cuts to public health, social services reductions, elimination of hours and funds to disabled and elderly persons in the In Home Supportive Services program. The County and the State of California do an abysmal job in helping families get the help to which they are legally entitled. California's record is dead last in national participation rates for food stamps. Two thirds of working families and half of all families combined, who are otherwise eligible to food stamps, don't get them.
The County's priorities are with old men who fly to golf tournaments. They just can't seem to be bothered with the rest of us. For George Carlin's commentary on golf and homelessness, go to 6:50 at this link. http://vimeo.com/39690612